You’ll have to wait a little longer to see the world’s priciest painting on the walls of the UAE’s newest art museum. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” was due to go on display at The Louvre Abu Dhabi this month, but the gallery this week revealed the postponement of its grand unveiling. Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism is yet to confirm the exact date the painting will go on show, after announcing the September 18 date has been delayed. The Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened its doors on Saadiyat Island last November, could be waiting for its first anniversary before showcasing the piece, The National reports.
The once-lost artwork, which dates back to 1500, became the most expensive painting ever sold when it went for US$450.3 million (SAR/AED 1.6 billion) at a Christie’s auction in 2017. The rare 500-year-old piece is an oil-on-walnut-panel portrait of Jesus Christ, and was only declared an authentic Da Vinci work in 2011. “Salvator Mundi” is one of only 24 paintings in the world widely accepted as a genuine creation of the famed Italian Renaissance artist. It was acquired on behalf of Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism (DCT) in 2017, in order to go on public display.
“The Salvator Mundi highlights the inclusive nature of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s narrative and Abu Dhabi’s mission to promote a message of acceptance, and openness,” HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT, said in a statement. “It is an opportunity for Abu Dhabi’s residents and visitors from around the world to engage with a rare and iconic work of great cultural significance at Louvre Abu Dhabi. Lost and hidden for so long in private hands, Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece is now our gift to the world. It belongs to all of us, who will have the chance to stand before it, and bear witness to the mastery of one of the most significant artists in living history.”
Other known Da Vinci works currently on public display include the “Mona Lisa” in the Louvre, Paris, and “The Last Supper”, which can be found at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Once unveiled, “Salvator Mundi” will be the first Da Vinci painting on permanent display in the Middle East, though the Louvre Abu Dhabi currently has Leonardo’s “La Belle Ferronniere”, loaned from its Parisian equivalent, on display also.